New Subdivision Connectivity Requirements

Dale City subdivision

A re-write of the regulations governing the acceptance of secondary streets into the state-maintained road system was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board yesterday with only one dissenting vote. The changes affect mainly the extent to which subdivision streets must interconnect with one another and other streets.

The purpose of the regulations, which arose from a 2007 law, was to encourage developers to design subdivisions with multiple connections to nearby roads and streets to avoid the problem of everyone in the subdivision emptying onto congested state roads at the same spot. In theory, greater connectivity between subdivisions gave drivers more potential routes to reach their destination without using overloaded main roads. If subdivisions failed to meet the requirements, the Virginia Department of Transportation would not accept them into the state system for maintenance.

In this year’s General Assembly, home builders pushed for changes to the acceptance requirements, which they said imposed an inflexible template on their subdivisions, regardless of circumstances. In particular, they disliked the Connectivity Index, which rated a subdivision plan based on the number of street segments and intersections. The formulaic approach did not work well for laying out subdivisions, which they described as a creative endeavor that is more an art form than a science.

The re-written regulations get rid of the Connectivity Index and substitute a simple requirement that every subdivision must have at least two exits, with an additional exit to be added for every 200 houses.

Smart Growth advocates were not adamantly opposed to the change, but they did say that so few new subdivisions have been built in the past four years that the Connectivity Index was really never given a chance. Why not wait and see how it works in practice before getting rid of it?

James E. Rich, Culpeper district representative, cast the only dissenting vote. He had only recently begun to get feedback from people on the re-write, he said. What was the rush in passing the new regulations? “I don’t like to vote on these things in a vacuum.”


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5 responses to “New Subdivision Connectivity Requirements”

  1. there needs to be flexibility – yes – but don’t let the idea of flexibility be used to neuter the intended PURPOSE of the connectivity rule.

    I understand that people do not want their neighborhood to be used as a “cut through” but you can pretty much discourage cut through with traffic calming and good old roundabouts which people in a hurry – hate.

  2. Groveton Avatar

    2 + INT(Homes/200)?

    Sounds fair to me.

    If I build 399 homes do I need 3 or 4 entrances?

  3. that’s the problem with a step function instead of using a ratio/index.

    but even that is arbitrary. It should be based on traffic generation.

    that’s something that people including developers can understand and that VDOT can defend.

    too many of VDOT’s regs are basically ” because we say so”.

  4. Traffic engineers believe that a grid of streets, where vehicles can reach the same destination via multiple streets in the same area, has a substantial positive impact on reducing congestion. So why shouldn’t this apply in all but rural areas?

  5. I do think that VDOT needs to demonstrate how the connectivity philosophy is “better”. Or let’s put it another way. The more they support it – the more public support they’ll get and the harder it will be for the developers to neuter it.

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